The Center for Civic Education is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in California. The Center’s programs are implemented with the assistance of a network of public- and private-sector organizations and educational leaders in every state and congressional district in the country and in more than eighty other countries, many of which are emerging and advanced democracies.
The Center has its roots in the interdisciplinary Committee on Civic Education formed at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1965 to develop more effective curricular programs in elementary and secondary civic education. In 1969, the Center became affiliated with the State Bar of California. In 1981, the State Bar established the Center for Civic Education as an independent nonprofit organization that remains affiliated with the State Bar.
The Center is dedicated to promoting an enlightened and responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles and actively engaged in the practice of democracy in the United States and other countries.
The principal goals of the Center's programs are to help students develop (1) an increased understanding of the institutions of constitutional democracy and the fundamental principles and values upon which they are founded, (2) the skills necessary to participate as competent and responsible citizens, and (3) the willingness to use democratic procedures for making decisions and managing conflict. Ultimately, the Center strives to develop an enlightened citizenry by working to increase understanding of the principles, values, institutions, and history of constitutional democracy among teachers, students, and the general public.
The Center’s Civitas International Programs provide leaders in civic education opportunities to learn from and assist each other in improving education for democracy in their nations. The programs address the full range of civic education activities, from the development of educational policy, standards, curricular frameworks, and materials to teacher education, classroom implementation, and research and evaluation.
The Center has its roots in the interdisciplinary Committee on Civic Education, which formed in 1965 at the University of California, Los Angeles, to develop more effective curricular programs in elementary and secondary civic education. In 1969, the Center became affiliated with the State Bar of California. In 1981, the State Bar of California established the Center for Civic Education as an independent nonprofit organization. The Center grew into a national and international organization through the successes of its principal programs and publications, including We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, We the People: Project Citizen, Foundations of Democracy, the Civitas International Programs, the National Standards for Civics and Government, and Res Publica: An International Framework for Education in Democracy.
Curricular Programs and Implementation
The Center offers the most effective programs in the world in civic education for democracy. The main curricular programs of the Center are the following:
We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, which is used at upper elementary, middle, and high school levels and in colleges and universities.
We the People: Project Citizen, which is used at upper elementary, middle, and high school levels and in colleges and universities.
Foundations of Democracy, which is used in classrooms ranging from kindergarten through the twelfth grade.
Diversity of Students Served
Since 1987 the We the People Programs have reached more than 30 million students. They have been made equally available to schools in every congressional district in the United States. As a result, participating students represent a cross-section of American society from rural, suburban, and urban areas. See the video on the right to learn more about the We the People program's implementation in a school serving children of migrant farm workers.
They have also focused on Native American reservations and schools for the deaf.
See the video at right to learn about the We the People program's implementation in schools for the deaf.
The Center’s curricular programs have also been translated, adapted, and implemented in more than eighty other countries including Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Poland, Russia, South Africa, and Venezuela.
The Center’s programs are the most extensively evaluated in the field of civic education. Notable among these are studies done by the Educational Testing Service, Stanford University, RMC Research Corporation, and Georgetown University. For more information on these studies see the Research and Evaluation page.
The Center has been a leader in the promotion of improved civic education through national initiatives that include the development of the National Standards for Civics and Government, the National Assessment of Education Progress civics framework, and four groundbreaking Congressional Conferences on Civic Education.
Since 1965 the principal sources of funding for the Center have been the Danforth Foundation, Ford Foundation, California Council on Criminal Justice, U.S. Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the U.S. Department of Education, the California State Department of Education, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The nonpartisan approaches of the Center’s programs have led to support from individuals and public- and private-sector organizations from across the responsible political spectrum in the United States. This has included, most significantly, support from leading members of both parties in the U.S. Congress. A review of the We the People program’s National Advisory Committee reveals the extent of endorsement by political leaders and professional organizations that reflect the political spectrum and diversity of the United States.
Board of Directors
The Center is governed by a nonpartisan board of directors composed of professional educators, representatives of the legal profession, scholars, and other leading members of communities in California and several other states.
The Center’s founding director is Charles N. Quigley. Brief biographical information about Quigley and key members of the Center's staff can be found on the Meet Our Staff page.
The Center began as the Committee on Civic Education at the University of California at Los Angeles
The Center became affiliated with the State Bar of California
The Center became a program of the State Bar of California
The Center is an independent 501-c-3 California nonprofit corporation affiliated with the State Bar of California